Friday, 12 August 2016

On This Day- Fatal Plane Crash in Cashelard near Ballyshannon 12th August

The Donegal Corridor along the river Erne between Ballyshannon and Belleek
Planes regularly flew along this route in the Second World War

Ireland adopted a policy of neutrality in World War II (The Emergency) and this was to prove complicated in places like Ballyshannon, as Northern Ireland was in the war and we were not. The problem of neutrality was highlighted when a request came from Britain to allow allied planes fly over a portion of Donegal. Flying boats based  in Lough Erne, at St. Angelo and  Castle Archdale in Fermanagh, were used to protect  allied shipping convoys. The planes had to fly north via Derry and  this meant that their range of protection was limited, by the amount of fuel which the plane could carry. This was to pose serious diplomatic problems for the Irish government when the request for the  use of our air space was received in January 1941. Permission was granted for Allied planes to fly over an area from Inishmurray to Lough Melvin, including the area along the Erne from Belleek to Ballyshannon and Bundoran which became known as The Donegal Corridor. This was to be of  immense value to the British, American and Canadian planes and the sight of planes over Ballyshannon was a regular occurrence during the Emergency.

A fatal plane crash in the area took place on rugged moorland at Cashelard, when a British Shorts Sunderland Flying Boat crashed on Saturday 12th August, 1944.  It was engaged in a routine Atlantic patrol.This aircraft developed engine trouble on taking off from Lower Lough Erne, one engine failing completely after a short time. The plane had eight depth charges and 2,100 gallons of fuel on board. The depth charges were jettisoned a mile from the scene. These were later blown up by members of the Irish  military in conjunction with R.A.F. personnel. The aircraft had a crew of twelve all members of the Royal  Canadian Air Force, three of whom lost their lives.  The crew were:  Pilot, Flight Lieutenant E. C. Devine RCAF , Flying Officer R. T. Wilkinson RCAF, Flying Sgt. Forrest, Flying Officer Allen, Flying Officer Platsko, Pilot Officer Parker, Pilot Officer Locke,Sgt. Oderkirk, Sgt. Jeal, Sgt. Clarke,Sgt. Singer and Sgt. Colbourne. Devine, Wilkinson and Forrest died. The survivors and dead were cared for at the Sheil Hospital  and later transferred to Northern Ireland. The Cashelard Community Association and others had a plaque errected in memory of this plane crash. Amongst those who were present, on the day the plane crashed in 1944, was Bishop  Edward Daly who as a young boy had cycled to the scene of the crash from his home. 
Amongst those who were present, on the day the plane crashed  between Cashelard and Corlea on 12th August 1944, was Edward Daly who as a young boy had cycled to the scene of the crash from his home near Belleek. Bishop Edward Daly was buried in Derry on 11th August 2016.

Memorials to the Donegal Corridor
Fatal plane crashes at Abbeylands Ballyshannon, Bundoran and Cashelard in 1944 are still fresh in peoples memories and in a sense, brought the war closer to the people of this area.  On Wednesday 18th April 2007 two plaques, in memory of those who lost their lives in the Donegal Corridor, were unveiled on Allingham Bridge in Ballyshannon and on Belleek Bridge.This cross-border ceremony reflected the close bond between people, in Fermanagh and Donegal, who witnessed and assisted with plane crashes in the Donegal Corridor. 
The plaque in Ballyshannon was unveiled by Sean Slevin (ex. L.D.F.) and Frank Garvin (ex. R.A.F.) unveiled the plaque at Belleek. Presentations were also exchanged between students at St. Davogs and The Controlled Primary School at Belleek and Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon.Speakers included: John Meehan, Chairman of Ballyshannon Town Council, John OKane, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Brian Pendry, Chairperson of Fermanagh Flying Boat Association, Breege Mc Cosker, Joe O Loughlin and Anthony Begley  (local historians). Religious services were conducted by Fr. Cathal O Fearraigh, Rev. Brian Russell, Canon Patrick Lonergan and Rev. Noel Regan. Music was provided by Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band.  The event was organised by Fermanagh Flying Boat Association, Fermanagh District Council and Ballyshannon Town Council.The plaque on the bridge at Ballyshannon reads:

The Donegal Corridor

During the Emergency (1939-1945) Sunderland and Catalina Flying Boats from R.A.F. Castle Archdale were allowed to fly along the River Erne between Belleek and Ballyshannon.This was known as the Donegal Corridor and was a concession granted by the Irish Government who were neutral in World War II. Young airmen flew over the Donegal Corridor to protect shipping convoys in the mid-Atlantic. A number of planes crashed in this locality.This plaque is in memory of the airmen and sailors from America,New Zealand, Canada, Britain and Ireland 
who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Local History book available in Local Shops or for Postal Delivery

"Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available tp purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, O'Neills, Clearys and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact

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